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Southeastern Med encourages you to know the sepsis signs, symptoms

Published: January 11, 2017 12:00 AM
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When in good health, you often don't think about the fragility of your life. But the reality is that nothing is guaranteed and it is essential that you remain proactive with your healthcare. Wade Bishop, of Salesville, was a healthy 28-year-old man in the prime of his life. An employee at Fed Ex and rarely sick, Wade's physical strength was undeniable. On January 2, 2016, Wade had finished a typical work shift and went out for breakfast the next morning with friends. He had begun running a small fever and after experiencing discomfort had noticed a minor cut on his leg. Naturally, he thought nothing of it and poured some rubbing alcohol on the wound to ward off potential infection.

However, Wade began to feel progressively worse throughout the day. He was sluggish and struggled to stay awake. Rather than wait until the doctors' office would reopen, he chose to visit Southeastern Med's Emergency Department (ED). While his symptoms of fever and shortness of breath didn't appear particularly alarming to him, something simply wasn't right. Within 72 hours, Wade went from being sick at home to being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and on life support at Southeastern Med. What Wade had attributed as a standard cut had become infected and started to form sepsis, which is when bacteria travels in the blood and invades the body. Due to the seriousness and fast progression of this illness, he was given a 30% chance of survival. Sepsis is the body's response to the potentially life-threatening complications of an infection. Sepsis causes blood pressure to drop and can quickly lead to multi-organ failure, tissue infection and ultimately death. Most commonly, infants and elderly or those with compromised immune systems are likely to develop sepsis. However, everyone is susceptible. Sharon, Wade's mother, noted, "It (sepsis) can happen to anyone, not just older people. I honestly thought he was just getting the flu."

A resource for identifying possible signs of sepsis includes using the acronym SEPSIS:

S- Shivering, fever, or very cold

E- Extreme pain or general discomfort

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P- Pale or discolored skin

S- Sleepy, difficult to arouse, confused,

I- "I feel like I might die"

S- Short of breath

After being admitted for less than 24 hours, Wade's fever was still relentless and he was transferred to the ICU. Dr. Eyad Mahayri, MD, F.C.C.P., Clinical Assistant Professor at Ohio State University; and Director of the Adult Intensive Care Unit at Southeastern Med became Wade's consulting physician. During his time in the ICU, Wade's heart also went into atrial fibrillation, which is characterized by an irregular and fast heartbeat. Rapidly, as with many sepsis cases, Wade's health began to deteriorate. He was placed on a ventilator for 9 days and was closely monitored by his doctors and nurses. Sepsis, even once identified, will progress very fast and evolve into septic shock which includes multi-organ failure. Septic shock occurs when sepsis does not improve despite numerous treatment efforts including the use of life-supporting machines.

After 14 days at Southeastern Med, Wade is well on his way to recovery. At the time of his discharge, he was able to walk efficiently and was doing well without a breathing tube. However, Wade's journey is not over. He will likely be unable to return to work for several weeks as he undergoes physical therapy and wound care follow ups. "The doctors and nurses here were wonderful. My nurse, Diane, was with me every step of the way and was always concerned about me," Wade explained. Sharon added that Dr. Mahayri probably got only two hours of sleep one evening because he voluntarily spent his night monitoring Wade's status. "You just don't get this kind of care at larger hospitals," Sharon said. "His doctors were stopping by his room and checking on him at least twice a day. We were really confident in the care he was receiving." Wade is very lucky to be alive today. If it were not for his decision to visit the ED and the excellent care he received from his healthcare team, his story might have been very different.

Dr. Mahayri explained that "In the first few days, Wade's chance of survival was less than thirty percent. He had full septic shock with multi-organ failure and a very low blood pressure. In these situations, it's not just about treating sepsis, which is already complicated, but being exceptionally proactive and foreseeing what could happen next. Time is very critical and it is essential to prevent future problems before they begin. This is one of the only ways to promote survival, and even then, nothing is guaranteed. Wade and his family demonstrated so much hope during a seemingly grave situation. That was encouraging to me as a physician. Seeing the smile on their faces and receiving a hug of appreciation from them when Wade left the hospital in better health was the best reward I could receive."

Southeastern Med remains proactive in caring for our community. In the past year, especially, the medical center has made great strides in providing additional information to the community about sepsis. This awareness includes the emphasis on early diagnosis of sepsis and working with patients and their families to provide them with continuing education. During this process in 2015, the medical center formed a multi-disciplinary team (encompassing nurses, physicians, administration, pharmacists, and laboratory associates) which meets weekly to evaluate practices and procedures relating to sepsis. Together this team has developed educational information for both staff and the community, a screening tool (used in triage and every 12 hours for inpatients), and 3 and 6-hour bundles (including the protocol for treating sepsis once identified). Southeastern Med nursing associates regularly attend health fairs, educate patients and families, and provide information on various social media sources to help make the community aware of this life-threatening condition.

Dr. Mahayri serves as the medical center's "physician champion" and is very passionate about sepsis awareness and education. He explains that "Sepsis is a well-known condition that must be treated quickly. Southeastern Med takes this very seriously. I, along with a multi-disciplinary team of skilled individuals, work together on a task force to determine how to most effectively recognize and treat sepsis. We use advanced equipment and follow thorough procedures and protocol in order to best serve our patients. Your health is always our top priority at Southeastern Med."

Southeastern Med encourages you to be informed of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. If you are ever in question, do not hesitate to call your primary physician or visit Southeastern Med's Emergency Department. Early detection could save your life!


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